Published August 1974 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd The First Battle of the Revolution West Virginians, proud of our state's history, are quick to point out as the nation's bicentennial draws near, that the first battle of the American Revolution occurred at Point Pleasant. Plans for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of that event are being pushed by Mason Countains. The battle was fought October 10, 1774- six months before the "shots heard 'round the world" were fired at Lexington and Concord. Eight hundred rugged colonial militiamen under the command of Colonel Andrew Lewis met and defeated a thousand Shawnee Indians commanded by Chief Cornstalk. The Shawnees, it is said, had been incited by British agents to harass the settlers; and had they won, an alliance would have been possible with the British that could have badly hurt the colonists. The United States Senate long ago recognized the strategic importance of the Battle of Point Pleasant. In 1908, it passed a bill to assist in the erection of a monument at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers "to commemorate the Battle of the Revolution" fought at that point. This tall granite shaft stands today in the Point Pleasant park known as Tu-Endie-Wei - Indian words for "the point between two waters." The site is one of West Virginia's most historic. The Battle of Point Pleasant was important for many reasons. It demonstrated to the colonists that they possessed strong military potential. If militia units could beat a stronger Indian force, could they not also beat the British? Colonel Lewis had organized his forces at Camp Union, now Lewisburg. In 19 days he marched them 160 miles through the trackless wilderness, across mountains and over rivers. They had been cut off by the Indians on the point of land between the two rivers when the battle began; and they had had no rest. But they routed their attackers and forced them back across the Ohio River. The battle and the subsequent peace treaty with the Indians brought relative peace to the frontier for several years and opened the way for further westward movement by white settlers. But most importantly, it enabled the colonists to turn their attention to fighting the British instead of the Indians. Our state's historic heritage is understandably a source of pride to its citizens.